“Overall I feel really good. I’m hopping, I’m moving, eating and drinking, and had coffee at 6:30 this morning …,” she said. “It would have been worth it if it was awful, but it’s not terrible by any means.”
Haussler said his kidneys quit working in December 2016 when he came down with pneumonia after the disease attacked his lungs and then affected his heart. He had a procedure to reduce fluid around his heart, but his blood pressure “went through the roof” causing a renal crisis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, scleroderma is a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for the body.
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In some people, scleroderma affects only the skin. But in many people, like Haussler, scleroderma also harms structures beyond the skin, such as blood vessels, internal organs and the digestive tract.
The disease in Haussler’s case also made eating solid foods nearly impossible. He lost 70 pounds, and some of his doctors’ predictions were dire.
“They didn’t come out and say it in direct terms, but there were a few doctors that didn’t give me much hope to survive at all,” Haussler said. “My wife and I had the hard conversations about what would happen if I passed away. But by the grace of God I’m still here.”
Debbie Haussler called Wessel a “lifesaver.” But it was an easy decision to make given the type of people the Hausslers are, Wessel said.
What amazes her is the impact their story has had on the community.
“So many amazing things are happening that really don’t have anything to do with me or Darryl, quite frankly,” she said. “It’s been an absolute joy to watch what’s unfolding from this event… there are just little things we notice that people are changing, and people are doing, and people are noticing, all just beautiful, wonderful things.”